Originally published in the Merritt News– Othmar Vohringer The Outdoorsman
© By Othmar Vohringer
The above is a question I am asked quite often by parents who wish to introduce their children to hunting. The answer is not cut and dried. In my opinion the introduction of a child to hunting is dependent on the child’s maturity, which is not necessary measured by age.
When I was a child I never was pushed to become a hunter and neither can I remember that it ever came up in a conversation. My father never said: “Now you’re old enough to learn about hunting.” I grew up seeing game mounts hanging on the wall. I was used to eating meals consisting of game meat and I knew that it meant taking the life of an animal. I grew up listening to my father and his friends hunting stories. In other words it was natural for me. I do remember that at about the age of eight asking my father if I could go with him to the range and shoot a gun. Of course he was pleased to take me along. About a year later I followed my dad on a scouting trip where he told me what signs to look for and explained them to me.
From then on it was a natural progression and at the age of 12 I asked if I could shoot a deer and was granted that wish. The rest is, as they say, history. I think there is no ‘appropriate’ age to introduce a child to hunting. In fact, it will probably be the child’s gradually building interest that will lead you to know when to start. Signs to look for will be when children begin asking questions about hunting.
The most important thing is not to push hunting on children and at the same time never try to hide it from them either. If a child wants to watch how you butcher a deer let the child watch. When a child asks more frank questions about hunting, take your time and answer honestly rather than make excuses or beat about the bush. Children are a lot smarter than we grant them. Take your children out on short outdoor trips, make it fun and let them explore the sights and sounds. Explain how nature and animals exist and that hunting is not only about killing but also just as much about conservation and preserving wildlife for the future.
Parents have to be in tune with their children and gently guide their interests in the right direction. Don’t let age alone determine when it is time to introduce them to hunting. First make sure the child is genuinely interested. A great way to introduce children to hunting and give them a broader understanding of what it is all about is to enroll them in a CORE course. This course is mandatory for every person wishing to hunt in this province but the course is not limited to people legally old enough to hunt; any child can take this course, even non-hunters. The CORE course is a great way to teach children the many aspects of wildlife and nature conservation and hunting.
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